Throughout 2013, I used this blog to illuminate important leadership and management issues. The topics ranged from changing organizational culture to evaluating training programs to making managers responsible for employee learning to creating a learning culture.
As a way of review, I’ve selected five blog posts from the past year that seem to have had the most interest for readers. Here are the links with a short excerpt from each post:
People act on the basis of tacit knowledge but they are often not aware of how daily behavior is shaped by this knowledge. It’s simply “how we do things here.” Underlying beliefs, assumptions, and values become routines that, over time, go unchallenged. Those routines may or may not serve the best interests of the organization and its customers. Culture change must confront the link between the thinking that drives behavior and the effects of that behavior on organizational success.
Managers of employees have a critical role to play in employee learning. Managers are in the best position to help employees acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. By asking questions, by assigning opportunities to apply knowledge and skills, by modeling expected behavior, by providing timely information, by coaching application of learning, and by giving performance feedback, they can facilitate learning and, therefore, performance improvement of their direct reports.
Learning and the retention of learning cannot be left to trainers alone. Organizations as a whole must create an environment that supports the learning process. Leaders must make learning a core value, managers must facilitate and support learning for their direct reports, trainers must provide learning interventions appropriate for the content, and learners must participate enthusiastically in the process. Retention of learning is a systems problem, not an individual employee or individual trainer problem.
Culture used to be considered a byproduct of organizational life. Today, many companies are being quite intentional about culture. So, how do you know what kind of culture you have and, if you want GreatWallPicture1 to create a learning culture, how do you know when you have one? Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO at HubSpot, gives us a way to think about this. He writes, “The true nature of your company – and its culture – is determined by how you instinctively react.”
After reading Joy, Inc. and visiting [Menlo Innovations] on several occasions, I believe the key to Menlo’s success is its “learning culture”. This is an intentional culture a la Edgar Schein's three levels: (1) the deep underlying beliefs and assumptions that are often difficult for insiders to articulate; (2) the values and principles that structure action; and (3) the symbols and artifacts that are visible on the surface for all to see. In the Menlo culture the message to employees, both implicitly and explicitly, is that we are learning together how to best serve our clients while creating an enjoyable and meaningful work environment.